The NBA’s Feb. 18 trade deadline is only a week away. Here’s some of the latest buzz from around the league.
Hawks looking to break up the band?
The Skinny: ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst are reporting that the Atlanta Hawks may be looking to break up their team’s core in a big way and are considering dealing all-stars Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver.
Analysis: If Atlanta really is looking to deal away its core this appears to be a case of a team taking a good, hard look at itself in the mirror and just realizing that it can’t accomplish its ultimate goal – a stunning revelation considering the Hawks won 60 games last season, was the East’s No. 1 seed and went to the conference final.
No matter how shocking, however, this does make sense.
The Hawks are currently sitting in fourth place in the East, 8.5 and 6.5 games back of the first and second place Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors, respectively. Barring anything really crazy happening, they likely aren’t catching either of those teams, so they can’t really be considered part of the Eastern Conference’s elite anymore. So that then begs the question if they really want to just be part of the mediocre second-tier and keep trying with a more veteran core?
If not, then blowing it up and trying to acquire both picks and young, up-and-coming NBA talent right now is the smart way to go.
Looking at each player’s contract situation, Horford’s deal is expiring at the end of the season and it’s likely he’ll command a max deal, or at least one very close to a max, while Teague and Korver have one more season each left on their deals and will also be in line for a pay raise when the time comes.
Of the three, Horford is the most intriguing. Both his talent and his expiring deal make him a very interesting rental option for contenders and teams that want to attempt a playoff push. One such team the report mentions is the Boston Celtics, but really, every team should at least give this deal a look, including the Raptors who have a noted hole at power forward – although they also have an issue at the wing with the injuries to DeMarre Carroll and James Johnson.
Teague, according to the ESPN report, has seen inquiries about from the Indiana Pacers, who would likely use George Hill to complete the transaction. The Orlando Magic is also a potential player for Teague, with Victor Oladipo being included in talks, says Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.
Meanwhile the market for Korver appears to be less clear, but the story does state that the league values three-point shooting more than ever, so there will be interest for a sniper of Korver’s ability.
One name not mentioned in the piece is Paul Millsap, Atlanta’s all-star this season who also is a big part of the Hawks’ core. Millsap is making about $18.6 million this season and will see that increase to a little over $20 million next year, followed by a player opt out in 2017-18 so he’s a pretty hefty commitment for a team that appears to be trying to start anew.
Is he really not available? Given the reported state of things, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense, but then again, maybe Atlanta management is looking to hold onto him as a key building block for the future. Either way, when GMs around the league pick up the phone to speak to Wes Wilcox they’d be foolish not to ask about Millsap, who would be the biggest prize to get from the Hawks.
Magic willing to part ways with Harris?
Analysis: If the Magic are willing to part ways with Oladipo for a veteran then there’s probably some truth to them willing to deal Harris as well. Stein says the Magic are “open to proposals of any kind to get a bit more seasoned,” which would make sense as the Magic currently is nothing but a collection of young talent, but this is still a little surprising.
The Magic re-signed Harris to a four-year $64-million contract this past off-season and they’re already having buyer’s remorse? Sure, he isn’t playing as well as he did last season, but he hasn’t been outright awful.
The Magic probably need a few veteran voices in that locker room to help guide and nurture all the babies they have, but trading a player with as much raw talent as Harris has, who they just committed to for any veteran, doesn’t seem too wise.
Heat want Casspi?
Analysis: While they aren’t championship contenders, the Heat are still a playoff team with a lot of proud veterans who probably don’t want to just see the first round and be done with it.
It’s no secret that Miami is an awful three-point shooting team, so trying to acquire a sharpshooter like Casspi would be a solid basketball move. With that said, Miami’s best trade chips are just a bunch of expiring deals that could help carve out more cap space for another team, something the Kings could conceivably make use of.
At the same time, however, they’re still on the fringe of the Western Conference playoff picture and after re-committing to George Karl, they’re probably going to try for it, and Casspi helps their chances more with him on the roster, than on another team.